I was browsing through the newsfeed in the Facebook. There, I came across a Newsfeed posted by one of my senior NERIST college mates. He had posted an item about the “Poorest CM of India”. I realized about a CM been rated the poorest CM in India recently and recalled about my visit to Agartala.
The Newsfeed read thus-
“ India’s Poorest Chief Minister – Mr Manik Sarkar.
He has been elected consecutively for fourth terms as chief Minister of Tripura. First some facts about this great person.
1. He is Poorest but Purest Chief Minister of India
2. He has been elected as Chief Minister consecutively for fourth term.
3. He doesn’t own a home.
4. His bank balance is Rs.6500/-
5. He donates all his salary to CPI (M), and party gives him sustenance allowance of Rs.5000/- per month.
6. His wife never uses official vehicle and can very easily be seen on Rickshaw in Agartala.
7. Even his worst opponents admit that Manik Sarkar is an impeccably honest man. Certainly a rare variety among politicians today.
Apart from honesty, Mr Manik Sarkar has been impetuous for the development of the state which includes better connectivity and development of IT sector in state. He was also responsible for bringing the concept of public-private partnership and invigorated private intervention, particularly in the IT sector”.
I visited Agartala, Tripura for the first time for a workshop programme on “Sharing Workshop on Affordable Green Rural Housing Designs and Technologies” from October 16-19, 2014 organized by the Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India in collaboration with UNDP and RD Department, Govt. of Tripura. The Jt. Secy. MoRD, GOI in her introductory speech, commented that “Tripura is a performing state in India, hence the programme at Agartala”. It was such a beautiful comment from a high official from the Ministry, but I was yet to prove her statement right. After the workshop programme was over, four of my engineer friends from Tripura (who were not the workshop participants) took me round the whole city and its vicinity. While moving around, we were discussing various topics-politics, development, governance, engineering designs; implementation of Central schemes, etc. etc. During the trip, I did not notice a single pothole on the roads; but only magnificent developments, magnificent Govt. buildings and township. On return to Geetanjali Guest House where I was accommodated, one friend commented- “Lhousa, I came to Dimapur in 2013, it was horrible to see your Dimapur roads. Why Dimapur- a fastest growing city roads have to be like that. You go and tell your PWD Minister”. I was so ashamed and put to speechless. Luckily or unluckily he did not pass through NH-29 to Kohima during that visit. Had he come up to Kohima that time, perhaps I would had been put to more shame and speechlessness.
During the course of deliberation in the workshop as well as during discussion with friends, I came to know that all Central Schemes and Flagship Programmes in Tripura are effectively been implemented as per guidelines and without any corruption. It was also learnt that the Superintendent Engineer of RD Department who addressed the workshop as Principal Secretary, RD Deptt. Govt. of Tripura was now elevated to such status by the State Govt. for his efficiency and transparency in implementation of Govt. programmes.
I was also told that stone aggregates (chippings) are not available in Agartala; all have to be imported from Bengladesh. They said it cost Rs. 120 to Rs. 130 per cft (cubic feet) which was available at Rs. 32 per cft in Kohima at that time. They said chipping cost more than the cement in their place. I told them that they should find a way to import chipping from Nagaland. They also said Tripura state govt. employees salary is the least amongst Northeast states and even in India. Every officer attached with Govt. vehicles will have to pay tax to the state govt. annually. The govt. vehicles cannot be used for any private purposes; if caught will be photographed and published in the newspapers the next day. “The state govt. is so strict about it”, they said.
Finally, before I take my flight back, I had to agree that Tripura is a performing State in India; the state from where the Poorest Chief Minister of India comes from.
Er. Neisievilie Lhousa, Kohima